News / Asia

Philippine Workers in Taiwan Feel Backlash

Protesters hurl eggs at the Philippines representative office in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2013.
Protesters hurl eggs at the Philippines representative office in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2013.
Simone Orendain
Advocates for Philippine migrant workers say they are concerned about the effects of a hiring freeze Taiwan's government has put in place against the Philippines.  The move came less than a week after a Philippine Coast Guard crew admitted shooting at a Taiwanese vessel, killing a fisherman. 

Statistics from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show close to 30,000 Filipinos are hired as workers in Taiwan every year.  The government says there are a total of more than 85,000 workers there now. 

Migrante International Chairman Garry Martinez says workers with pending applications for jobs in Taiwan will be hit especially hard.  This is because even before they leave, they may owe recruitment and other application fees, which come to one month’s salary or more.

“They’re asking for the bank to give them money and there is some collateral and the big interest to the loan shark.  That is the problem they are facing now,” he said.

Martinez says workers already in Taiwan also face uncertainty.  His niece is a machinist at a factory and he says he has received reports from her and from other factory workers that their bosses anticipate business will slow down if they cannot hire.

The hiring freeze and sanctions on travel to the Philippines went into effect Wednesday, after Taiwan rejected Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s apology for the fishing incident, calling it unofficial because it came from a de facto envoy to Taiwan. Taiwanese investigators in Manila on Saturday called the shooting a murder.

Aquino’s spokespeople have reiterated the administration’s regret over the “unintended and unfortunate incident,” drawing the ire of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who said they could not assess the situation in these terms without a joint investigation.  But the Philippines has said "no" to such an arrangement.

Manila-based security analyst Rommel Banlaoi says the carefully worded messages are in keeping with the Philippines’ view that Taiwan is part of China. 

“We deal with Taiwan [in a] purely economic sense, trade and commerce and investment.  But we avoid having political or security ties with Taiwan… because we don’t want to undermine the ‘One China’ policy,” said Banlaoi.

Banlaoi says Taiwan’s reaction is “not an act of a friend,” especially because they are the sixth-largest partner of the Philippines with annual trade of $2 billion.  He says the overseas contract workers are a major contributor to this relationship.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: XiaoLangGuo from: Taiwan
May 19, 2013 12:45 PM
Democratic Asian countries like Tawian and Philippines need to unite in friendship against their common foe - the PRC. Squabbles like this undermine the fundamental unity of free peoples.

by: Anonymous
May 19, 2013 11:34 AM
Philippine coast guard chased and HUNTED for the UNARMED Taiwan fishing boat for an hour,

leaving the boat with at least 45 bullet holes, most of which are concentrated at the cabin .

The fact shows that the shots fired were aimed to MURDER those Taiwanese crew members.

However, the Philippine National Government claimed that this attack is "unintentional" ,

using the word "regret" instead of a formal apology.

The accusation that Taiwan's fishing boat rammed the vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard

so they are forced to open fire is totally unfounded,

since there are no marks indicating any collision on the surface of Taiwan's boat.

Ballistic evidence already showed the shots were fired FROM BEHIND, not from the front.

The attitude of Philippine Officials towards this incident is frivolous and perfunctory!
In Response

by: Manong from: USA
May 19, 2013 6:16 PM
Why are they being hunted and why are they trying to get away?

by: noob
May 19, 2013 11:17 AM
I'm from Taiwan, unlike the Philippinos, I seldom have the chance to use English, but I still want to say something about this.

The key point here is "unintended and unfortunate incident" claimed over and over again by the Philippines government. Taiwanese government had shown all the evidences why we accused the PCGs to be cold-blooded murderers, but where's the evidence of the Philippines side?

It's not necessary to spend so much time on investigation to solve this problem, there's another easy way. The Philippines have the video (yes they say they have), show the video to the public to prove what you have accused the fisherman to be true, then all the sufferings will be gone.

Under the other circumstances, they don't have the evidence to their claims, apologize sincerely.

I know this report comes from the Philippines, and it's on the side of the Philippines. Just wanted to tell you it's unfair why Taiwan's voices should be always ignored??
In Response

by: Andy from: US
May 19, 2013 4:07 PM
I was born in Taiwan and had the fortune to pursue and finish my medical doctorate degree in the United States, and if I may, I would like to offer my point of view.

If at the end of the day, the only sticking point is the wording of the apology, then as a primarily English speaker, I do not see any intent to insult or to mitigate the incident with the use of "unintended" and "unfortunate". I certainly hope it wasn't the intention of the Philippine government or Filipinos as a whole to kill that specific fisherman, and I think everyone can agree that it was not a fortunate experience.

However, speaking as someone who understands Chinese, I would like to also offer that the use of those words, does have significant meaning in so as to distance oneself from blame in an argument.

While it is important to adequately and effectively settle this dispute in a fair and nationally satisfying manner for both countries, it is important to understand that there may be misunderstanding stemming from linguistic and cultural differences, and we should exclude those difference from the concerted and conscious effort to effectively and cognitively understand each other with a benefit of the doubt.

More importantly, in my opinion, it is imperative to connect with and understand, the rising level of national fervor surrounding this and, indeed, many recent other Asian incidents. Political mood in large part is a product of economy. I want to emphasize this point. One country's economy isn't just one country's problem any more. It is the product of globalization, and as a result, political mood has also been globalized. It manifests itself regionally like the Arab Spring. Now it manifests itself in what I call, Asian Nationalism. Nationalism, historically, is important in economic recovery, and as a whole, is a good sign. However, there are those who would misuse nationalism. Pride is useful. Pride is also dangerous. I would urge people to be mindful and thoughtful in this respect.
In Response

by: Dennis Ho from: Philippines
May 19, 2013 1:59 PM
Investigation is on its way, should there be substance of lapse of judgement by thE PCG, prosecution will be laid. Then the wheel of justice will turn. Taipei cannot demand things to move at their phase. We are a separate country. Now with regards to poachers intruding, there should be zero tolerance. As these people are economic and ecological hazards to this country. They resisted arrest and therefore got chased with open fire.
In Response

by: Dennis Ho from: Philippines
May 19, 2013 1:53 PM
Your government is asking for an apology in the form of admission. Expected to be signed by the president. If Taipei investigators already call this a murder? Then our president would be liable for this incident under Philippine law. If such apology will be deemed acceptable.
In Response

by: socali
May 19, 2013 12:50 PM
The article was about migrant workers. Human beings. You are arguing a different case all together....also your media won't report it because its unpopular. Seldom do migrants complain of harrasment. They do not want to leave.

by: keith from: USA
May 19, 2013 11:07 AM
No doubt Pinoy's will feel the effect of the sanctions big time. But I'm proud how our country react to the situation. Glad to recognize that their reaction is not an act of a friend and the world is watching.

by: Anonymous
May 19, 2013 9:53 AM
"One China policy" shouldn't be an excuse to reject to give a formal apology to Taiwan's government. The fact is that you did kill a Taiwanese fishman by gunfire and that man even didn't violate any rule or across the border. That's why people in Taiwan will feel angry.
In Response

by: noob
May 20, 2013 12:50 AM
I think I have to adress some words again with my poor English. My government have the VDR ( although I don't exactly know what it is, it records where the fishing vessel had been to) to prove our fishermen had never intruded the zone the Philippines said. We welcome the Philippines come to Taiwan to examine all our evidences.

According to the exaggerated economic zone claimed by the Philippines government, I may be poaching while fishing at the seaside of Taiwan, cause their EEZ contains 2/3 of Taiwan, and they denied to admit the existence of Taiwan and hence the Taiwan's EEZ. Most Philippinos' address about this are not based on evidence, but we have evidence that our fishermen didn't do any thing illegal. That's why I said Taiwan's voices are always ignored.
In Response

by: juan from: dela cruz
May 19, 2013 8:27 PM
the problem with taiwan media is they are trying to project that the incident is happening in the overlapping EEZ which is not true . the overlapping EEZ of the philippines is in the bashi channel while the incident happened in the babuyan channel water way between batanes island and babuyan island which is both of philippine islands how come their presented a map erasing the itbayat island, batan island , north island , yami island to visualize that there is an overlapping EEZ.
In Response

by: Steven from: California
May 19, 2013 6:13 PM
Taiwan keeps on telling, fisherman was killed, did not violate any rule ... how did you know ? you are just listening to your president and media whose rating is so slow and wants to show he is tough. The fisherman is a regular pocher or a thief, look at the map that is being shown even in your news .. that place is Philippine Territory. Taiwanese and Chinese knowing Philippine Coast Guard are weak do not mind them in fact they don't care if they are in Philippine territory or not they just take what ever they want. The thief should have expected what is coming to him.
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